Ocean Mixed Layers and Acoustic Pulse-Propagation in the Greenland Sea

Sutton, PJ, Worcester PF, Masters G, Cornuelle BD, Lynch JF.  1993.  Ocean Mixed Layers and Acoustic Pulse-Propagation in the Greenland Sea. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 94:1517-1526.

Date Published:



deep-water, ice


A simple one-dimensional ocean mixed layer model is used to study the effect of the transition between summer and winter conditions in the Greenland Sea on range-independent acoustic propagation. Acoustic normal modes propagated through the evolving sound-speed profile simulate broadband acoustic receptions from the Greenland Sea Tomography Experiment. The resulting changes in arrival structure and travel time are compared with data recorded between two of the tomographic moorings. The starting state for the model is the average of measured summer temperature and salinity profiles. At each time step the surface layer is modified by the removal of heat (modeling heat loss to the atmosphere) and the removal of fresh water (modeling evaporation minus precipitation). When necessary, static stability is maintained by mixing the surface layer into deeper layers. The acoustic normal modes exhibit large changes in behavior as the profile changes. In both summer (seasonal thermocline) and winter (adiabatic sound-speed profile) individual modes show minimal frequency dispersion. Intermediate profiles with a shallow surface mixed layer give highly dispersive modes, delaying the final acoustic energy cutoff by several hundred milliseconds relative to the summer and winter cases. This is the largest travel time signal observed in the data. The largest peak in the late continuous acoustic energy is due to minimally dispersed modes and corresponds to ray arrivals with near horizontal receiver angles. The amplitude of the arrival is low when significant dispersion is present.